Forbes, you need a better oceans reporter – a much better one! Ms. Allen shouldn’t go moonlighting as a movie critic, either. What a gross distortion her hatchet job on Seaspiracy is. It’s so subpar for Forbes, and a real disservice to the readers.
In this article, I show how Allen got it wrong in several statements from her essay (which, at the very least, should have been published as an opinion piece). For the record, I’m drawing from the actual transcript of the film for this rebuttal, so it’s not based solely on my interpretation of Seaspiracy.
Allen: “The film falsely accuses the Marine Stewardship Council, or MSC, of mis-labeling canned tuna as ‘dolphin safe’ and implies the Plastic Pollution Coalition is hiding the amount of plastic fishing gear that ends up in the ocean.”
It’s Earth Island that is featured regarding “dolphin safe” tuna labels, not MSC, and it’s an Earth Island spokesperson who explains why the label is misleading – much as he tried to backpedal his comments after Seaspiracy was released. Nor does Seaspiracy imply that “the Plastic Pollution Coalition is hiding the amount of plastic fishing gear that ends up in the ocean”! What it actually does is question PPC as to why they aren’t urging people to not eat fish since fishing gear comprises such a large percentage of ocean plastic pollution…a suggestion that a PPC spokesperson also recommended, which was later denied. (Too late, it was recorded.)
Allen: “The film claims fishing gear makes up nearly half of plastic in the ocean.”
No, it doesn’t. It notes that “fishing-related garbage in the [Great Pacific Garbage] Patch is over 50%.”
Allen: “Instead of providing people with memorable information and tactics to assess the validity of scientific claims, the film encourages viewers to trust no one except itself and a few organizations, most of which are known for extreme views when it comes to animal welfare.”
The film interviews numerous individuals and organizations. Viewers can draw their own conclusions from the interviews.
Extreme views on animal welfare? Why is opposition to gratuitous cruelty to animals considered “extreme”? Ms. Allen shows a complete lack of consideration for aquatic animals throughout her piece. She reveals how culturally conditioned she is to regard them as commodities rather than the sensitive, intelligent beings they are.
Allen: “Seaspiracy’s push for a seafood-free future fails to scrutinize the marginalized people that would be affected if such a movement were to take hold.”
Seaspiracy shows how harmful industrial fishing is for a community that is genuinely dependent on fish for survival. Its message to not eat fish obviously isn’t intended for such people. That there are humans and other animals who do need to eat fish in order to survive is all the more reason why we, who have better options, should not eat fish. Rather than pushing for a “seafood-free future,” Seaspiracy encourages viewers who want seafood to opt for vegan seafood.
Allen: “Seaspiracy’s ability to wield cancel culture to drive home a misleading narrative may also undermine people’s trust in ocean conservation organizations and the science behind their efforts.”
Nonsense! The conservation organizations interviewed in the film spoke for themselves —– or refused to do so —- and the ones that shot themselves in the foot should be judged accordingly. It’s high time they were called to account.
Allen: “While it’s important to scrutinize information, including science coming from reputable sources, the damage inflicted by blanket distrust in organizations, scientists, and entire fields of study is difficult to fathom.”
Seaspiracy doesn’t inflict “blanket distrust in organizations, scientists, or entire fields of study.” It disseminates a great deal of scientific information, including information from such esteemed scientists as Callum Roberts and Sylvia Earle, who are interviewed in it.
One would think that people who genuinely care about oceans and their inhabitants would greatly appreciate a film that is making the grave problems affecting them known to such a vast audience and in such a compelling way, and suggesting to them a way they can easily make a meaningful difference in their daily lives. In all probability, that is why “well-known environmentalists and conservation organizations have expressed support for Seaspiracy.” It’s wonderful that the film’s recommendation is being enthusiastically embraced by the public. It’s appalling that others who purport to care are instead trying to shoot the film down, and it’s disgusting that they are resorting to falsehoods about it in order to do so. Hopefully, Ms. Allen is more competent in her work “as an environmental regulatory specialist in Northern California.” Much more competent!
It’s telling that, after she was confronted with this, she appears to have removed the post of her article from her Facebook page. Forbes’ readers deserve to know the truth, a correction is warranted.
Even if you emailed Forbes last week, please send another email today and ask them to retract Allen’s article! Our suggested script follows:
I urge you to retract the review of Seaspiracy you published by Liz Allen and publish a correction. Allen’s film review is filled with misinformation and inaccuracies which animal scientist Mary Finelli addresses in her rebuttal.
While Seaspiracy is not without its flaws and is not above criticism, the attacks against it by fishing industry advocates like Allen just prove how those who profit on the exploitation of the oceans are hijacking its very conservation. As author Spencer Roberts eloquently writes in the Jacobin, “We must protect our ocean, using all strategies at our disposal, and collectively reclaim the authority to govern how it is treated from those who profit from its exploitation.”
I look forward to your reply.